GALLUP, N.M. (AP) - A proposal to require mandatory sentences for people caught breaking the coronavirus curfew on the Navajo Nation is awaiting consideration by the Navajo Nation Council, their highest legislative body.
Police have been charging curfew violators with public nuisance, which gives judges the choice of sentencing to 30 days in jail or fines of up to $1,000, the Gallup Independent reported Thursday.
One judge in Chinle, Arizona issued a warning to a curfew offender, the newspaper reported.
Under the new guidelines, first-time rule-breakers of the 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will be ordered to pay fines of $500. Second-time culprits will face $1,000 fines. Third-time offenders will pay $1,000 fines and get prison sentences of up to 30 days.
The council’s Law and Order Committee on Tuesday unanimously backed the proposal but the council’s Health, Education and Human Services Committee unanimously opposed it on Sept. 2.
The proposal will be considered by a third committee before it is considered by the full council.
There have been 9,933 confirmed cases and 530 confirmed deaths on the Navajo Nation since the pandemic began, according to the Navajo Department of Health.
The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some - especially older adults and people with existing health problems - it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
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